JPMorgan steps up push for women executives and clients

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) is expanding the reach and funding of a group established to promote women working inside the bank to also help female clients, including entrepreneurs and individuals.

The bank said on Wednesday that it is backing the group with a full-time director and resources to promote savings by women and $10 billion of loans to women-owned businesses.

The group, which grew out of a networking and career advancement effort started in 2013, on Wednesday held its third annual “Leadership Day” by expanding the conference to 2,000 people at Radio City Music Hall from 300 employees in a room at JPMorgan headquarters.

“We are going to continue to focus on employees to make sure we have more women in senior positions, but the extension is around clients and providing access to capital,” Samantha Saperstein, the JPMorgan managing director of the group, Women on the Move, said in an interview.

The move comes as a number of big banks have publicized their aspirations to have more women executives. In August, Citigroup Inc (C.N) said it aims to lift its share of women in mid- and senior-level executive positions to 40 percent by 2021 from the current 37 percent.

In March, Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) said it was committed to having women account for 50 percent of employees globally “over time.”

Goldman does not disclose the current global percentage, but in the United States women make up 22 percent of executives and senior managers and 38 percent of total employees.

Studies by university scholars and by management consultants have shown that the financial performance of firms tends to be better if they have more women in top management. One reason is believed to be the diversity of ideas and perspectives that comes from a more heterogeneous pool of executives.

David Gaddis Ross, a professor at the University of Florida who has studied the issue, said in an interview that the increased attention for women from Wall Street likely reflects competition for a new generation of finance graduates who would rather work for firms that embrace diversity.

JPMorgan’s conference was to include talks by the five women who are on the 11-member JPMorgan Operating Committee, and interviews with JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Nasdaq Inc (NDAQ.O) CEO Adena Friedman and Girlboss Media CEO founder Sophia Amoruso.